February 18, 2008 (Sudan Tribune)
In the latest series of escalation, a senior Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) official issued a strong worded warning to those he describes as “war mongers” from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in Abyei.
Luka Biong Deng, Minister for Presidential Affairs in the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) said in press reports shown on the daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that the SPLA will respond swiftly to any attack “targeting any natives of Abyei regardless of their ethnicity”.
The Arab Misseriya tribe in the oil rich region on their end announced that they have appointed Mohamed Omar Al-Ansari as the governor of Abyei. The new governor gave the SPLM an ultimatum until next Saturday to abandon the administration to a group called “Abyei Liberation Front”, or else they will face a military offensive.
Al-Ansari said he is flying to Khartoum to consult with “security officials” and to address the Abyei natives in the capital and brief them on the latest developments.
There was an outbreak between Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) and the nomadic Misseriya tribe, who go to Abyei for cattle-herding, in November and December of last year which claimed dozens of lives.
Both sides accuse each other of initiating the violence. Recently members of the Misseriya tribe closed the route leading to Abyei.
The SPLM chairman Salva Kiir instructed SPLA units in December not to attack the Misseriya tribe or any other tribes in the area.
Deng accused the NCP of backing certain parties to fuel the conflict in Abyei despite the work done inside the presidency to resolve the issue.
“We tell those people that the phase of war is over and the Abyei issue is in the hands of the presidency” he said.
But Al-Ansari said that each of the five members of the “Abyei Liberation Front” appointed to administer the region is leading a battalion of 1500-3000 armed fighters surrounding the governorate of the region from a distance of 20 kilometers.
The Misseriya leader said he has “the same legitimacy as President Omar Al-Bashir and his Vice President Salva Kiir”. He also urged the women and children to be evacuated from Abyei if the SPLM refuses to hand over the administration to them. The SPLM and the National Congress Party (NCP) have yet to resolve the issue of the oil rich region with both sides claiming ownership of the area.
Kiir told the semi-governmental Al-Ahram daily last week that the NCP is the party blocking the implementation of the Abyei protocol which is part of the Naivasha agreement that ended two decades of the civil war between the North and the South.
Under the protocol a commission known as the Abyei Boundaries Commission (ABC) was to “define and demarcate the area of the nine Ngok Dinka Chiefdoms transferred to Kordofan in 1905, referred to herein as Abyei Area”.
“The ABC report should be binding to all parties but the NCP rejected it and is looking for an alternative. This is not acceptable to us and we will stick the report” Kiir said.
However the president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir said that the NCP is committed to the Abyei Protocol only with the border of 1905. He further said the government is not concerned with the ABC report and that the latter is of no value to them.
The Abyei region has been described as Sudan’s Kashmir by the ENOUGH project saying that it may develop into a “national war with regional implications and historically devastating repercussions”.
The SPLM signed a peace deal in January 2005 with the government of the National Congress Party in January 2005 ending two decades of civil war in Southern Sudan. The peace deal made the SPLM, the ruling party in the south and the NCP the ruling party in the north.
In 2011, southerners will be asked to vote in a referendum on whether they want to be independent or remain part of Sudan.
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